Last month, Monster Aid stepped in to donate 1,000 masks to Interfaith Works, a homeless services program in Olympia, Washington.
Our Washington community is special to us -- Monster Aid’s warehouse is in Lacey, where our co-founder and a few other members of our team operate. We met Meg Martin, Interfaith Works’ executive director, through a mutual connection, and knew instantly her mission was one we wanted to support.
Since 2014, Interfaith Works has been serving the Olympia homeless community by providing shelters where visitors can take showers, do their laundry, grab a companion to go to appointments with, enjoy a warm meal, and feel safe.
When COVID-19 came into the picture, they acted fast.
“When COVID hit in early March, we realized how much at risk our people were, and vulnerable to the disease,” said Meg. “We said, ‘Okay, right now we need to do the most we can for the people in our shelters.’”
Interfaith Works operates a day center that was closed due to social distancing difficulties. It contained their hygiene facilities, where visitors could take a shower and do laundry -- which made keeping sanitary difficult.
“The whole thing was, ‘Wash your hands!’ but, when our day center closed, we couldn’t,” Meg said.
To improvise, the staff took note of every person’s health that came through the shelter doors to make sure it remained a safe place.
“We started screening every single person at the door, asking about their symptoms, if they had a fever, and if we could take their temperature,” Meg said.
Adapting to the New Normal
Every time a new precaution for COVID-19 emerged, Interfaith Works would hop right on board.
By early April, temperature screenings were mandatory to enter the shelter. They’d give visitors a different color wrist band every day to be able to differentiate who had their temperature taken. Beds were spaced out to adhere to social distancing rules, and everyone wore a mask at all times.
Then, there was the outpouring of support from the local community.
With meal delivery services, donations of Monster Aid disposable surgical masks and homemade cloth masks, and dedicated volunteer support, Interfaith Works managed to expand and accommodate 46 members of the community who needed shelter.
And since they acted fast so fast, with strict policies on wearing their masks 24/7 and having residents do the same -- Interfaith Works has had 0 members test positive for COVID-19.
Monster Aid is all for conquering fear and doing what we can to help. Our masks went to volunteers, staff, and were passed out to encampments and other members of the community who were not at the shelter.
“Our staff was really afraid at first, no one knew anything, no one really knew the risk involved -- just to be able to have that PPE made it feel like coming to work was more safe,” Meg said.
With a stable supply of face masks, Meg said everyone felt a strong “sense of safety and security.”
That's what Monster Aid is here for -- to battle uncertainty and fear any way we can.
To learn more about how you can help with keeping the homeless community safe, visit Interfaith Works' website.